DISCLAIMER: The Facts of Life and its characters are the property of Columbia Pictures Television and Sony Pictures Television, no infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Beauty Crowds Me: Chapter 7 of 16 Chapters. Quotes in italics are direct quotes from the Facts of Life Series, Season 2, Episode 7, Teenage Marriage Pt. 1.
MEDIA LINK: http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=192C5D50428674AB
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
THANKS: To Stacey for the Beta.
Beauty Crowds Me
7: Humpty Dumpty Had a Great Fall Part 1
Blair stood alone on the ledge overlooking Peekskill. Her thick fur coat did little to shield her from the wintry gusts, but that was nothing compared to the deep freeze that gripped her heart. Winter had descended upon Peekskill with a vengeance and Cooper's Rock seemed to be the most desolate place on earth. The granite rocks felt like blocks of ice beneath the devastated blonde. She shouldn't be there in the cold all by herself, she knew that she had to pick herself up and move on, but she was at a loss as to how to manage it.
Blair thought about the day her parents told her that they were getting a divorce. It had been the worst day of her life, until now. After her parents' divorce, Blair found it difficult to trust anyone. She thought she had finally found the one person on whom she could depend when she'd met Jo. She had trusted Jo without reservation. She had told Jo that she loved her.
New tears sprang to Blair's eyes, making her face all the more susceptible to the freezing wind. She had loved and lost and she felt bitter toward the poets who proclaimed that to lose the one you love was better than to have never loved at all. Blair disagreed. She wished that she had never met Jo Polniaczek and she wondered how she would ever survive having to endure the other girl's presence for the remainder of the school year.
Blair closed her eyes and forced herself to remember every detail of the past several days. Jo was still at Eastland, but only because Mrs. Garrett had thwarted her attempt to run away with Eddie Brennan. Blair needed to stay angry, otherwise she might make the same mistake again and her heart would never survive the blow.
"Guess what? Jo made the debating team!"
Tootie was ecstatic for her newest roommate. In Tootie's eyes, Jo was just about the most perfect person ever to attend Eastland and Tootie was thrilled to see Jo excel.
Blair had known that Jo would be trying out for the debating team that afternoon and she wanted to be happy for Jo, she really did. She wanted to be happy for Jo, but she wasn't. What was wrong with her? She had done everything in her power to make sure that Jo was accepted at Eastland because she cared about Jo. So why did it bother her to realize that Jo had been perfectly capable of fitting in at Eastland without any assistance from Blair.
Blair had described Jo as a born leader, but she hadn't realized at the time just how accurate the description would be. Most of the time, Jo was surly, grumpy, angry and disagreeable, but people were drawn to her. Other students followed her lead. Even Mrs. Garrett seemed to listen closely to the things Jo said. It was as if everyone knew that the sixteen year old had some deeper understanding of how the world worked than the rest of them comprehended.
Blair wanted Jo to succeed, but she wanted Jo to need her, too. It was selfish, but Blair wasn't secure enough to believe that she could hold on to Jo unless Jo depended on her. Jo was already outshining Blair academically. Blair wasn't thrilled with the prospect of sharing her spotlight as the top gun on the debating team with Jo as well.
"Terrific! Jo and Blair on the same team."
Mrs. Garrett succeeded in containing her smirk. She found the idea of Jo and Blair on the same team delicious. She'd had to deal with their constant squabbles for almost the entire first semester and she was thrilled that they'd have another outlet for their outbursts.
"How thrilling, ha ha ha ha ha."
Blair's sarcastic laugh was intended to convey her low opinion of having Jo as a teammate, and the message was received loud and clear.
Jo ignored Blair and turned her attention back to Mrs. G.
"Our first debate is against the guys at Bates Academy."
"Ha, you'll cream 'em."
"I don't know," Blair interjected, "Bink Parker's on their team, he's practically a genius."
"Oh relax. I'm a pretty good fast talker myself."
Jo was bragging for her girlfriend, somewhat confused that Blair wasn't excited to have Jo on their team.
"I picked it up at home watching some of my friends."
Tootie questioned, curious that Jo would have had a debate team at her former school.
Jo explained, much to Blair's embarrassment. She couldn't recall how many times she had tried to convince Jo not to say things like that. She knew that Jo knew Eastland girls would not be as impressed with her association with criminals as her gang member friends had been. Blair was beginning to confuse herself; did she want Jo to fit in or not?
Jo wasn't going to let Blair's foul mood get her down. She was having a near perfect day. She had not only won a spot on the debating team, she had received another love letter from Eddie. It was the kind of thing she wanted to share with her best friend, but she knew Blair wouldn't appreciate Eddie's romantic words, so she shared the letter with Mrs. Garrett instead. She hadn't expected Tootie to take the letter from Mrs. Garrett and read it out loud in front of Blair. She considered Eddie's letter's romantic, but she knew Blair would only find ways to make fun of them. The looks she received from Blair as Tootie read Eddie's letter were enough to confirm Jo's suspicions as to Blair's reaction, but she didn't have time to deal with Blair's temper. Jo wanted to let her mother know about her latest accomplishment.
Jo loved calling her mother whenever she won another award or gained some type of recognition at Eastland. Her mother still had mixed feelings about sending her only child so far away to attend a school filled with over-privileged girls who had nothing in common with her daughter, so Jo liked being able to show her mother how well she was doing at the prestigious school.
After Jo announced that she was calling her mother to share the news about winning a spot on the debate team, Blair felt a need to explain why she wasn't calling anyone.
"I didn't even bother calling my mother. Good news about me is getting repetitious."
It sounded a lot better than the real reason she hadn't called anyone, it's not as if either of her parents were all that interested in what Blair was doing at school. They expected their daughter to excel. They certainly didn't see the need to celebrate every accomplishment. Actually, they didn't see the need to celebrate any achievement, but Blair was used to being ignored by her parents. If she needed recognition, she could always depend upon Mrs. Garrett to provide her the ego boost she needed. She wasn't jealous of Jo's relationship with her mother, but she did envy it just a little.
Blair's envy vanished as she overheard Jo's conversation with her mother. Jo's call had been answered by her mother's new live-in boyfriend, a man Jo had neither met nor knew anything about. The hurt and betrayal in Jo's voice tore at Blair's heart.
Blair was worried. She looked over at Mrs. Garrett and could see the concern etched in the well meaning dietician's face. If Mrs. Garrett was also concerned, Blair knew she had good reason to be worried about Jo.
"I guess she's not coming up for the debate."
Blair wished for once that Tootie had kept her mouth shut.
"So what? She's got good old Jack, that's all she cares about."
"Jo, you know that's not true."
Mrs. Garrett was trying to defuse Jo's anger.
"Living with a guy. No wonder I got shipped up here to 'girl's town', she wanted to dump me."
"She wanted you to have a good education, plain and simple."
"Yeah? Then why didn't she tell me she was getting a new roommate?"
Jo wasn't about to explain all the reasons why her mother's actions infuriated her so much. It was bad enough that they knew her mother was shacking up with some guy named Jack; she didn't want to smear her mother's reputation further by revealing that this wasn't the first time her mother had brought boyfriends into their home.
Mrs. Garrett thought that she had convinced Jo to make up with her mother, but just the opposite was true. While pretending to call her mom, Jo was really calling Eddie. Days later, Jo would give anything to take back that one phone call and the resulting fall out.
The next day, Jo walked into the cafeteria, shocked to find Eddie talking with Natalie. She immediately ran to the boy who always took her side and threw her arms around him. Jo was blown away that Eddie cared enough about her to come all that way just because she was upset.
No one had ever treated Jo the way Eddie did. He made her feel important and special. He had stood up for her when she was unable to stand up for herself. She was terribly grateful to Eddie for all the ways he had helped her back when she had needed it most. She would never forget all that Eddie had done for Jo and her mother.
Jo wasn't so much embarrassed that Mrs. Garrett and Tootie walked in while she and Eddie were hugging, but she could barely look at Blair.
Blair, for her part, took everything in stride. She knew about Eddie. She had seen his picture and heard plenty of Jo's stories about the sailor. She'd also experienced a version of Jo's idea of what a kiss was supposed to be like based on her experiences with Eddie, so Blair didn't worry too much about Eddie in that area. Blair may have been insecure about her emotional connection with Jo, but she had total confidence in the effect her kisses had on the passionate brunette.
"And this is another one of my roommates, Blair."
"Oh yeah, Park Avenue. You wrote about her."
Blair wasn't sure whether to be pleased or not by the fact that she had been singled out as the one person about whom Jo had written to Eddie. It was obvious, however, that Jo was very close to the handsome young sailor. Blair had hoped that Jo had been exaggerating her connection with Eddie, but it looked as though she hadn't. If anything, Jo had downplayed her involvement with her boyfriend.
Blair stepped over the line with Jo often, but she had learned to back off when it came to Eddie. Now that she was face to face with her competition, backing off still seemed to be the wisest course of action. She had been polite upon meeting him, but she stepped to the background and allowed Jo to visit privately with her boyfriend.
Eddie was the only person who fully understood Jo's concerns about her mother. He knew that the basis for Jo's anger was her deep concern for her mother's well being. He also knew that Jo had valid reasons for being so upset and concerned about her mother's new living arrangements.
"Hey. Hey Jo. You got me. I'm the one who really cares about ya."
Eddie pulled a box from his trousers.
"Here, I want you to have this."
"Oh Eddie. A ring! It's beautiful!"
"Yeah, best one at K-Mart."
Jo placed the ring on her finger, but it was several sizes too large.
"Well, it's a little big on me, but that doesn't matter."
"That's okay, I brought some tape."
"You think of everything."
Jo wrapped enough tape around the ring so that it wouldn't fall off of her finger.
"Jo, I love you and now all we have is each other. That's why I want you to marry me."
"Marry you? I always knew some day we'd get married, but now? I don't know what to say."
Jo was very grateful to Eddie for coming so far to check up on her, but she was shocked that he would even consider asking her to marry him while they were both so young.
"Well how about yes?"
"Eddie, I'm sixteen."
"That's okay. On our way back to Chicago we can stop off in West Virginia, sixteen is the legal age there."
Eddie had missed Jo's point completely. She wasn't concerned about the legal age of consent, she was voicing her opinion that she was simply too young to be thinking about marriage. She tried to explain.
"But I'm not even finished with high school and I don't want to blow what Mom spent on this place."
"You can't worry about that now. Jo, I miss you. It's really lonely out there without ya. I haven't even looked at another girl."
Eddie pointed out that Jo had no reason to be indebted to her mother, after how her mother had sprung Jack on her daughter. Jo was also flattered by Eddie's admission that he was lonely and she didn't feel all that grateful to her mother at the moment for how hard she was working to keep Jo at Eastland. Eddie had been there for Jo when she needed him, she didn't want to let him down now that he needed her.
Jo gave Eddie a shy smile, emphasizing how much she appreciated his loyalty. Things were moving too fast for Jo. She'd been knocked off her feet when Jack answered her mother's phone. Jo had reacted violently to her mother's prior choices of boyfriends and she couldn't believe her mother would expect her to accept her current arrangement without acting out in some way. It would serve her mother right if Jo ran off to marry Eddie.
"I'm so confused. I can't even think."
"Why don't you let me do the thinking? Look, I don't want to rush you but I gotta start back tomorrow."
Jo couldn't imagine that anyone else would need her as much as Eddie. Blair might love Jo, but she could never need Jo the way Eddie did.
Jo had to have more time to think. Blair was waiting for her upstairs and she knew that her curious roommate would have more than a few questions. Jo didn't want to answer Blair's questions. She didn't want to answer Eddie's question either. Blair could have anyone she wanted and one day she was going to figure that out. Jo was the only person Eddie had and he would always think that Jo was special. She couldn't bring herself to hurt the caring young sailor who had risked his naval career to visit her, but marrying him now would be insane.
"Eddie, please. Let me think about it."
"Sure. I'll just get a room at the Y tonight, but you'll keep the ring while you think?"
Blair sat on the edge of her bed, waiting for Jo to return from the shower and pretending to be interested in what Natalie was saying. Only yesterday Blair had considered it a disaster that Jo had joined her on the debating team. Now all of that seemed trivial in comparison to Eddie's arrival. Blair had known that she would eventually have to deal with Eddie, but she hadn't figured on it happening so soon. What was he doing here anyway? Why would he show up out of the blue for no reason? Or did he have a reason? Blair needed answers and the only one who could give them to her was Jo. Jo had come so close to opening up to Blair about her mother the night before. Blair simply needed more time with Jo before having to compete with Eddie. It wasn't fair that he showed up in the middle of the school year when everything had been going so well for Jo and Blair.
Natalie's exclamation was Blair's first clue that Jo had returned to their room. Jo chuckled, a little embarrassed by Natalie's remark.
"Gee whiz, Jo. Eddie is even cuter in person than in his picture."
Tootie's gushing wasn't helping Blair's mood either.
"If you two are finished mooning over Eddie, Jo and I have to prepare for tomorrow's debate."
"Oh, I think somebody is jealous."
Natalie smirked at Blair's bad mood.
Blair and Jo exchanged anxious glances, but Tootie's interjection allayed their fears.
"Oh, don't worry Blair. I'm sure that Eddie's not the only available hunk out there. You'll find someone just as good as Eddie one day."
Tootie and Natalie both giggled, convinced that Blair was jealous of Jo, not realizing it was Eddie who evoked the green-eyed monster in the possessive blonde.
"I really don't have time for this. Jo, do you want to practice for the debate or not? We can go down to the lounge since it's too noisy in here."
"You don't have to go anywhere. Tootie and I are planning on watching the new Clint Eastwood movie in the lounge tonight. You and Jo can practice for your stupid debate as long as you like."
After the two younger roommates left the room, Blair glared at Jo.
"I think I'm already prepared for the debate, Blair, but I'd be happy to help you if you need some pointers."
"I don't need any debating pointers from you, Jo."
Jo sat down on her bed, busying herself with her covers and trying to hide the ring on her finger.
"So, how long is Eddie planning to stay in town?"
Jo's reaction to Blair's tentative question was swift and stern.
"Don't you go saying anything bad about Eddie. I mean it, Blair, I won't stand for you making fun of Eddie or of the two of us together."
"Don't you think you're just the tiniest bit over-sensitive?"
Jo realized that Blair hadn't actually said anything negative about Eddie, yet. She had reacted to what she knew Blair was thinking, but had to admit that Blair hadn't said anything worthy of such a venomous response.
"Maybe. I just know that you would prefer never to hear about Eddie, but you can't avoid him forever. He is my boyfriend, that's not going to change."
"Did you invite him down to see the debate?"
Jo was confused for a moment, then remembered that she had originally planned to invite her mother to the debate. It made sense that Blair might expect that Jo would have invited Eddie instead.
"No. I didn't know he was coming. I would have told you if I had known. I'm not totally insensitive to your feelings Blair."
As little of a concession as that was, it made Blair feel somewhat better to know that Jo hadn't intentionally sprung Eddie on her without any warning.
"So he just decided to come all the way from Chicago to surprise you on a whim?"
"Something like that. I might have sounded a little upset the last time I spoke with him. It was right after I found out about my mom's new boyfriend."
So that was it. Blair had tried her best to get Jo to confide in her about her mother, but Jo had refused. Now it was clear that Jo had chosen to share her concerns with Eddie instead. This wasn't good for Blair. She knew Jo thought of her as shallow, but she had tried to let Jo know that she was someone the temperamental girl could talk to if she needed.
Blair got up and moved to Jo's bed, stopping to lock the door to their room before sitting down beside her friend. Jo kept her arms crossed in front of her, still making sure that Blair didn't get a look at the ring Eddie had given her. She didn't want to hurt Blair unnecessarily and she still didn't know what she was going to say to Eddie the next day.
"I guess it's nice for you to have Eddie to talk to about things."
"Yeah, I can trust Eddie."
"Jo, you can trust me, too. I mean, not instead of Eddie, but in addition to Eddie. You can trust me, too. You know that, don't you?"
"Yeah, I know that."
"I guess I wanted to pretend that Eddie didn't really exist."
"I guess I shouldn't have given you reason to think I might change my mind about him."
"Are you saying that you have regrets? About us? I mean, not that there is an 'us', but about the uh, kissing and stuff?"
Jo's head hurt so bad that all she wanted to do was lay down as still as possible and try to sleep. She couldn't think about her feelings for Blair with Eddie's most recent kiss still on her lips.
"I regret maybe leading you on, but I don't regret kissing you."
Blair's hand inched toward Jo's arm, but Jo pulled away before they touched.
Blair was hurt. She was also afraid and insecure. She couldn't bear the thought of Jo sharing intimate secrets with Eddie. She had just found out that Jo talked with Eddie about things she didn't feel comfortable sharing with Blair and that hurt much more than seeing Eddie hugging Jo earlier that day.
"Are we going to be okay?"
"What do you mean?"
"Are we going to still be friends?"
"Of course we're going to stay friends."
"The kind of friends who go to Cooper's Rock together?"
Jo didn't know how to answer that question. She knew she wasn't being fair to Blair. She couldn't believe she was in this situation. First, she'd never dreamed that Blair wanted anything more from her than a cheap temporary thrill. Once she saw that Blair had real feelings for her, she should have put a stop to the cuddling and kissing. Jo knew she'd been selfish, but it was easier to turn her anger toward Blair than toward herself.
"You knew the score with me and Eddie. It's not my fault if you got your hopes up."
"I care about you Jo."
"Well, you have a funny way of showing it sometimes. You didn't even want me on the debate team."
Blair sighed. She was sure her behavior often confused Jo; she confused herself. She should have welcomed Jo on to the debate team, but that was water under the bridge. Blair needed to convince Jo that her feelings for Jo were sincere. Blair knew she wasn't going to get anywhere with Jo by simply discussing her feelings. Her best weapon against Eddie was the sexual chemistry she shared with Jo. As much as Blair hated her mother's sexual escapades, her mother had at least taught her daughter how to use that weapon.
"I want to show you how much I care, Jo. How would you like for me to show it? What can I do to show you how much you mean to me?"
Jo was reeling again. She didn't consider herself the kind of person who could even think about kissing more than one person on the same day, but all she wanted to do at the moment was to kiss Blair and reassure her that everything was going to be okay. She wanted more than anything to feel Blair's tender touches and forget about the deadline Eddie had given her for her answer to his proposal. She wanted to forget about the pain pulsing in her head, her mother and good old Jack, and she wanted to forget about how badly she had treated Blair. Jo wanted to forget everything and Blair was offering her the one thing that could always take her mind off of all her worries.
Jo closed her eyes to gain strength. She was not the type of person to use another person, especially Blair. It would be wrong of her to take advantage of Blair's feelings for her, even though she felt just as strongly about Blair.
Jo had regained her composure and was about to open her eyes and tell Blair about Eddie's proposal when she felt Blair's lips on her neck, gently sucking at her throbbing pulse point. Jo planned to stop Blair, but it felt so good that she allowed it to continue just a second longer. Seconds turned into minutes as Jo found herself lying on top of Blair, returning her kisses with fevered urgency. Jo slipped her ring off of her finger and into the nightstand drawer without Blair noticing. Moments later her hands were running through Blair's hair and she was burying her face in the other girl's neck.
Blair ran her nails lightly along Jo's back, knowing how much Jo loved that sort of attention and pleased that it was a particularly feminine show of affection. She felt fairly sure that Eddie wouldn't be raking his nails along Jo's back and she wanted Jo to be fully aware of who she was holding and kissing.
Jo was more than aware of Blair, she was consumed by her.
"Harder, Blair. Make me feel it."
Blair slipped her hands inside the back of Jo's pajama top and raked her nails along Jo's bare skin, relishing the play of muscles beneath her fingertips.
Hearing Jo moan her name encouraged Blair to go further. Her feelings of doubt, fear, desire, passion, anger, and hurt all melded into one as Blair lost herself in Jo, clawing desperately at Jo's back and dragging her teeth along Jo's shoulder.
Jo was already lost in the sensations. She had only one thought, one goal, one purpose, Blair.
"Don't hold back, Blair. I know you want to bite down. I can feel it. Let go of it all, Blair. It's okay to let go of everything."
Blair did bite down, hard. She was tuned in to every twitch of muscle, every hitched breath, every subtle movement of Jo's body.
"Joey, I love you so much."
Jo couldn't respond with words, her body was overpowering her mind.
Jo heard pounding, but ignored it, thinking it was all in her head. Blair didn't hear anything other than Jo's moans and deep sighs. The pounding, however, grew louder.
"Hey, what's going on in there? Let us in."
Jo pulled back and looked into Blair's eyes, which were dark and clouded with desire.
"Did you hear something?"
Natalie began pounding on the door again.
"If you don't let us in, we're going to go get Mrs. Garrett and she went to bed over an hour ago."
Jo sat up and began straightening her pajamas, making sure that all the buttons were still in all the right places.
Blair continued to lie on Jo's bed, confused and disoriented.
"Blair, get in your own bed. Hurry."
Jo's whispers took several beats to register before Blair shook her head to help clear her mind.
She watched as Jo headed toward the door and then immediately reached out to draw her back.
"What is it?"
Jo didn't see any reason for Blair to hold her back, or for the girl to look so terrified.
"Jo, I have to answer the door. You have to get back into bed."
Jo had caused enough people to quake in fear that she knew the look. She hated that Blair seemed suddenly to be so afraid of her.
Blair sighed deeply and grabbed Jo's hand for support.
"There's a little blood on the back of your shirt where I scratched you. I'm so sorry, Jo. I didn't realize. Please don't be mad. I'm so sorry."
Jo rolled her eyes and jumped back into bed, nodding for Blair to answer the door. She still couldn't understand why Blair was so upset over a tiny speck of blood. How bad could it be?
By the time Blair opened the door, Natalie and Tootie were halfway back down the hall.
"Why were you two banging on the door? Why didn't you just come in?"
"Duh, someone locked the door."
"Duh, it must have been one of you because Jo and I haven't gone anywhere."
Natalie and Tootie shared an exasperated look and stomped into the room.
"Be quiet. Jo is asleep. She had one of those bad headaches and you know how she gets if you wake her up from one of those."
"Well if our pounding on the door didn't wake her up, I don't think we have to worry."
"Shhh. I gave her something to help her sleep, be quiet."
Natalie looked over at Jo. She did look a little feverish. She walked over and placed her hand on Jo's brow, which seemed very hot.
"I think Jo has a fever, should we take her temperature?"
"Not unless she wakes up, just try to be a little quieter."
Blair had succeeded in turning Natalie's attention from the locked door to Jo's health, forgoing any further explanations as to why the door was locked in the first place. As bad as it was to have been caught locking the door, Blair was glad she had taken the initiative to lock it before walking over to Jo's bed. It would have been much worse if the two younger girls had actually opened the door at the time they were knocking on it.
Jo could barely hear the other girls whispering. She hadn't realized how drained she was from all the excitement of the day. She was almost asleep by the time Natalie placed her hand on her brow to check her temperature.
Jo normally slept on her back so she was surprised to find herself lying face down in her bed the next morning when the alarm clock sounded. She had agreed to meet Eddie before her first class, so she had set the clock much earlier than usual. Blair groaned and threw her pillow over her head, but Tootie and Natalie had trained themselves to ignore the shrill sound of the older girl's alarm.
Jo quietly gathered her school uniform and went to the shared bathroom down the hall. Once in the brightly lit room, Jo began to undress, only to stop in stunned disbelief when she saw the condition of her pajama top. How in the world was she going to explain this to Mrs. Garrett? The motherly lady would certainly think that Jo had been fighting again. Jo turned to get a glimpse of her back in the mirror. Mrs. G would think she'd been in fight with a mountain lion if she got a look at the scratches on Jo's back. What was Blair thinking?
Jo squeezed her eyes shut, trying to focus on the previous night. She remembered encouraging Blair to scratch her and then . . . oh, no, she remembered encouraging the aggressive blonde to bite her as well. Jo swung her body back around to look at her neck, relieved to see it free of any blemishes. Her collar bone near her shoulder, however, was a different matter. The bruise left by Blair was already a deep purple and teeth marks made it obvious that this was not an injury sustained in a fight.
Jo calmed down, reminding herself that all of the marks left by Blair were in places where no one would be able to see them. Suddenly Jo was hit by a realization as solid as a board smacking her in the head. No one would normally see those marks, but if she and Eddie were to. . . Jo was enraged at the thought that Blair might have marked her on purpose. She didn't really think that Blair had thought that far ahead, but it was a possibility. Of course, Blair didn't know that Eddie had proposed and Jo had made it clear that she and Eddie didn't do anything more sexual than kissing, but Jo couldn't be sure that Blair believed her. Jo was considering all the alternatives when she heard a light knock on the door and Blair's voice from the other side.
"Jo, can I come in?"
Wearing only her pajama bottoms, Jo pulled a towel in front of her breasts, the only area she attempted to cover before opening the door for Blair. She intended to confront Blair with the evidence marking her body.
"Jo. Oh God. I didn't realize. I, uh, I don't know what to say. I can't believe I could do something like that to anyone, especially to you. Does it hurt?"
"You did this on purpose, didn't you?"
"What?" Blair was stunned by the accusation.
"You heard me. You did this on purpose so that Eddie would see it."
"No! Jo, I promise I would never do something like that. Eddie won't see anything anyway. I mean, you'd have to . . ."
Blair stumbled over her words. Would Eddie see those marks? Had she misunderstood the extent of Jo's physical relationship with Eddie?
"You and Eddie are . . ."
Blair turned pale and sat down on the side of the bathtub, trying to make sense of the conversation.
"You and Eddie are lovers?"
"No!" Jo blasted. Then she added much softer, "not yet."
Jo noted the direction of Blair's eyes and felt a sense of satisfaction in Blair's discomfort as her brow furrowed when she got a clearer view of Jo's back. After all, this was the girl who had left scratch and bite marks all over her the night before she was to give Eddie the answer to his proposal. Jo almost flinched at the thought. She was the only one who knew about the proposal. She was the one who had asked Blair to bite her. She was the one who had left Eddie's arms and gone straight into Blair's. Jo was about to apologize, but a stricken Blair left the bathroom before she had an opportunity.
Blair and Jo managed to avoid speaking to one another during their classes that day. It wasn't until they were to leave for Bates that Blair ventured a few words with the angry brunette. Blair's words were monotone, as if she had been practicing her speech over and over for some time. She delivered it as if she were reading from a script.
"I'm sorry for what I did to you, Jo. I never meant to hurt you and I never meant for Eddie to find out about us. I won't interfere and I won't keep pursuing you. I hope we can be friends, just friends. I understand if you don't want to talk to me anymore. I can't tell you how ashamed I am about what happened. I'm not usually so . . . I don't even know the word to describe the kind of person who could cause that bruise on your shoulder. Anyway, good luck during the debate. I know I didn't exactly welcome you to the team, but I'm glad you're with us."
Jo searched Blair's eyes, trying to decide if she was being honest with her. It wasn't that Blair was usually untruthful, but the blonde liked to play word games with people and sometimes it was difficult to tell sincerity from sarcasm if Blair was intent on blurring her meaning. This time Blair didn't seem to have any other agenda than to make up with Jo, so Jo relented.
"It doesn't hurt and it was as much my fault as yours. I was wrong to suspect that you did it on purpose and for the record Eddie and I don't do the sort of things that would give him a chance to see those marks. I just wanted you to know that, in case you wondered."
The conversation was awkward and stilted and Blair excused herself as soon as the opportunity presented itself.
When Blair and Jo got back to Eastland, their tentative truce had been shattered by their horrifying performance during the debate against Bates. Their argument about the debate quickly turned into an argument about Eddie, ending with Blair asking Jo about the tape on her finger.
"I burned myself. That's all."
Tootie was prying Jo's hand away from her back in seconds.
"A ring! Is this an engagement ring?"
"An engagement ring? Stand back I'm identifying."
Natalie was as excited as Tootie once she realized that there really was a ring on Jo's finger.
Blair took a closer look at the small ring on Jo's finger. It hardly qualified as an engagement ring and her pride made it important for her to set the two younger classmates straight. There was no way Jo would be wearing an engagement ring, not after the passion they'd shared the night before. It wasn't possible.
Blair was having trouble focusing on what was happening as Jo confirmed that Eddie had asked her to marry him. Nothing seemed real. Blair felt like she was looking through the funny mirrors at the fair where reality was distorted into something unrecognizable.
She was shocked, first that Eddie had proposed and Jo hadn't told her earlier and second that Jo would even consider getting married at sixteen.
Blair was also stunned by Jo's attitude. She had resigned herself to losing Jo to Eddie as a boyfriend, but she never even considered that Jo would do anything so drastic as to marry Eddie. Once she recovered from the shock, she immediately began devising a plan to convince Jo of the absurdity of marrying Eddie at such a young age. Blair didn't even have to address the fact that Jo was gay. There were enough reasons not to marry Eddie without bringing Jo's sexual orientation into it.
Blair decided to enlist the aid of Bink Parker. After all, he was the best debater she knew. If anyone could sway Jo's opinion, it would be Bink. All Blair had to do was make a date with Bink and invite Jo and Eddie to join them.
It wasn't Blair's fault that Bink jumped the gun and insulted Eddie even before their meal arrived. Jo was furious at Blair and dragged her to the ladies room to confront her.
"I thought you wanted to have dinner with me and Eddie out of friendship, you phony."
"What I did was out of friendship, Jo. You matter to me."
"You know what matters to me? That you brought your hit man, Bink Bug Off."
"Jo. I'm concerned about your future. I've never told you this before, but I think you have real potential, even though you're a basket case now."
Blair had been relieved to see a bathroom attendant at first, a little nervous about the degree of Jo's anger, but at this point in the conversation she wanted to be more direct and it was impossible to speak openly about her relationship with Jo while the attendant was in the room.
"Okay Blair. You proved that Eddie and I are two dumb kids, in way over our heads. With no money, no education, and no chance."
"That's why it's going to be even sweeter when we make it work."
"Make what work?"
"You know, tonight I was gonna say 'no' to Eddie, but you helped me to realize that he's the only one I can trust and maybe we don't have anything else, but we have each other and that's enough."
Jo's words cut Blair deeply. Not only was Jo planning to elope with Eddie, she was blaming Blair for pushing her into it. Blair was distraught. She made the decision to stop Jo from ruining her future, even if it meant ruining any chance for the two of them to remain friends.
8: Humpty Dumpty Had a Great Fall Part 2
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